Beijing is the center of a huge China. In Beijing, the modern metropolis encounters a culture that is hundreds of years old. In the Chinese capital, Beijing, the achievements of historic dynasties, modern skyscrapers, and the communist worldview are seamlessly intertwined.
History in the shadow of skyscrapers
According to DigoPaul, Beijing is one of the oldest human settlements in the history of more than three millennia. Today, the capital is China’s third largest population concentration after Shanghai and Chongqing .
The modern business center with its countless skyscrapers resembles farther than any Western metropolis, but Beijing surprises with its uniqueness around almost every corner. The Square of Heavenly Peace, which is rumored to be crowded with up to a million people, is just the prelude to the huge Forbidden City that opens to its north. There are also mandatory day trip destinations within easy reach: the Great Wall of China and the Summer Palace.
Perhaps the most interesting gift for Beijing for tourists is the perception of the colorful stages of the city and the whole of China at the collision points of historical monuments and temples, as well as skyscrapers bursting with their novelty. Sit at a local restaurant, order a portion of the world-famous Beijing duck and let the atmosphere of a million cities charm.
The late President Mao Zedong watches the Tiananmen Square from his portrait.
Seasons and weather
The summer in Beijing is toasty and even suppressively hot, while the winters are cold and snowy. Thus, from July to October, the tourist is likely to get sweaty, and at least air pollution does not make the tourist feel better. In the spring, in April and May, temperatures are milder than in the summer and remain at 20 degrees. It is considered by many to be the most pleasant time to visit the city.
Travelers to China should also consider holidays, which – depending on your point of view – can either crown your holiday or make it a little more difficult to enjoy.
Of these festivities, the Chinese New Year from January to February is the best known and most celebrated. In addition to the spectacular decorations, the street scene also shows locals who travel to their home communities every year, the number of whom, in the case of the Chinese, is counted in the tens if not hundreds of millions.
Also, the Labor and National Days celebrated in May and October can be a little confusing as locals use their earned holidays.
Congestion on a large scale
Although Beijing is no longer China’s largest city, its vastness should not be questioned, as the metropolitan area is still one of the largest in the world.
One cannot walk in Beijing without paying attention to the ubiquitous crowds. A huge car crowd flows through the streets of Beijing every day, in addition to which it is also worth being careful with the flows of people on the pedestrian side.
In order to save time, it is worth using mainly public transport. However, a long surface is also necessary in them, as congestion is not limited to the outside of vehicles – it can also be very cramped inside vehicles at times.
Bargaining is always worth it
The northern capital is one of the best in the world in terms of shopping. In addition to nationally known brands, it is also worth reserving space for suitcases for silk, pearl and jade jewelery, and even porcelain.
Like the rest of the city, the shopping areas are traditionally divided in two. Another of the more lavish shopping malls can be found in the downtown area on almost every street corner. The counterbalance, on the other hand, is brought about by lively supermarkets and crowded markets.
Especially in the latter, the noble skill of compromising rises in value to the unpredictable. An knowledgeable shopper, without exception, buys his product clearly below the starting price – often a suitable price is about a third of the seller’s first proposal. If you learn a few words of Chinese, the price will drop as if by itself.
The supermarkets have an atmosphere and shopping typically becomes affordable. However, be careful with the quality of the products you buy, and don’t expect to get a prime branded product, supermarkets sell mostly pirated products, although sometimes quite high quality ones.
Chinese clothing sizes are small in Western terms. A normal-weight Finn is easily a size XL-XXL, and sizes may not even be found for an adult Finn. In China, you should also check out local sewing shops, and make custom-made party dresses, for example. Negotiating and sewing a contract helps a lot if you have someone who speaks Chinese.
To the morning in a Beijing park
The 2008 Olympics ensured that more attention was paid to Beijing’s appearance and services. Today, Beijing is quite a polished and externally modern metropolis. A peek into the small alleys, however, gives you a glimpse of a more traditional and perhaps more authentic Chinese way of life.
The old and often dilapidated Huton areas are perhaps not the most beautiful Beijing for the Chinese, but for the tourist, such authentic regions give the city a new kind of depth.
In the midst of Beijing’s skyscrapers, there are also several picturesque parks that often give color to the misty city. These green oases serve not only as outdoor areas, but also as places to exercise.
The locals exercise in the parks from fencing to line dancing, and at their best the parks are early in the morning when seniors start their day. In Beijing, you should pop in the Beihai and Houhai Park Areas.